Dear Matthew Alice: You’d be doing generations of us an immense favor if you would finally put to rest all these eternal stories of the Fish carburetors, the guy with the water-separation pill, all of those somebody’s cousins who had patents for super carburetors that the oil companies have bought up. Put the truth in print finally, so we will have some ammunition to shut up these people who still swear that all this happened. — Barry Wahlgren, downtown
They’re called urban legends, Barry, and there is no known cure. Even a force as powerful as Matthew Alice will never squelch the innate human desire to believe tales of the little guy genius-inventor being stomped on by greedy, hard-hearted corporations out to make our lives miserable. The Fish carburetor story is a classic, around in one form or another since the ’20s. The claims of 100 miles per gallon, of course, are bunk, but as far as I can tell, there actually was a Fish carburetor built by some guy, maybe from Missouri, named Michael Brown. He sued Popular Mechanics in 1992 over some smart-ass comment a writer made implying that the Fish was a fake. The lawsuit has been thrown out of various courts and, at last count, had traveled 422.5 miles on hot air alone.